How RoboHelp 9 benefits Translation Projects - 1

September 14, 2011

Many of our clients and blog readers are familiar with RoboHelp, at least by reputation. This innovative product for generating various forms of help files celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. Due to the many versions of the product and recent dramatic improvements, there are often misconceptions about this products tremendous strength and benefit in language translation projects.

RoboHelp 9 can be used very productively as a standalone product, for people who only need various forms of Help systems or ePubs. But one of the biggest benefits to end-users is RoboHelp's seamless integrations with FrameMaker 10, Acrobat X and Captivate 5.5 in Adobe's Technical Communication Suite 3.5 (Tech Comm Suite.) Although this blog focuses specifically on RoboHelp, the incredible power of combining content creation from FrameMaker and rich media generation from Captivate, seamlessly output through RoboHelp via Tech Comm Suite should not be overlooked. In fact, you should check to make sure that your language translation services provider (translation agency) is "up-to-speed" on the latest version of Tech Comm Suite 3.5.

A note about FrameMaker 10 and RoboHelp 9 integration

A desirable option to maximize your single-source workflow for traditional documentation and HTML Help (or other formats) is to author your basic content in FrameMaker 10. Then, have FrameMaker paragraphs or DITA elements mapped to appropriate styles in RoboHelp 9, and output to a distinctly differently formatted Help system via Tech Comm Suite 3.5. Conditional text control in unstructured FrameMaker or DITA/FrameMaker can allow you to produce multiple versions of content, e.g. one for PDF output, and another, more extensive set of content for a complex Help system. For purposes of simplicity, this review will just focus on RoboHelp 9 functionality.

How the product has changed

Many readers may be familiar with older versions of RoboHelp (e.g. pre-Adobe releases created and supported by Macromedia), and may not be familiar with some of the compelling reasons to consider RoboHelp 10, or to upgrade to it from an older version. Here are just a few reasons to consider an upgrade to the current version of RoboHelp:

  • Improved user-interface and "author-friendly" workflow. Despite the many forms of input and output, the tools are remarkably accessible and logical.
  • The product is scalable and can easily grow with expanding needs.
  • Significant time and money can be saved with the new Review and Collaboration workflow solution. Adobe Acrobat Reader is a free tool for reviewers to use.
  • Several "extras" are bundled into the product at no extra charge, including RoboScreen Capture, RoboSource Control and Extended Scripting automation.

RoboHelp Features that specifically aid translation projects

Here is the short list of product functionality in RoboHelp 9 that is critical to multilingual and translation projects:

  • Unicode support for over 35 languages
  • Edit topics side-by-side with the Multiple Document Interface (MDI)
  • Support for multiple tables of contents, indices and glossaries and different languages
  • Granular control over language definition: define a language at the topic or even paragraph levels, in addition to the project
  • The "LANG" attribute is used for thesaurus, spell checking, Smart Indexing and also creating the search index
  • The language attribute specified at the paragraph level is given the highest preference
  • RoboHelp produces clean XHTML code
  • The new Review and Collaboration workflow solution can streamline your workflow saving considerable time and cost as the team is empowered to communicate efficiently and accurately

Although these few features assist Help translation projects tremendously, several new product enhancements, and features introduced in the previous release are very relevant as well.

RoboHelp 9 streamlines the Review and Collaboration process

One of the biggest challenges most clients have in managing the source language content for Help Systems is keeping content in sync and managing the review and collaboration process. RoboHelp 9 has several potent methods to ease these processes. The three major workflow solutions to this challenge are detailed below:

Adobe PDF Based Review

This method supports a "round-trip" workflow. The content manager can select topics individually or based on status. This can include just snippets or Master Pages. After the review process, authors can import the comments back into RoboHelp and either accept or reject comments as they deem appropriate. There is no limit to the number of reviewers of topics, so this is highly scalable.

PDFs generated for review can be hosted on an internal server, on Acrobat.com (a cloud), or a Microsoft SharePoint server. So, the reviewer's access to files for review can be very flexible. Creating a PDF for Review in RoboHelp is relatively simple.

Once all comments are in from reviewers, the author can use the Review > Import Comments from PDF command. A Review Pane shows a list of comments or changes. The author can easily go to a specific topic to accept or reject it by double clicking on the comment.

The screen capture below, from Adobe's RoboHelp 9 Reviewer's Guide, shows a document with imported comments visible in the Review Pane at the bottom of the screen:

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At this point, as the content-creator clicks on comments, logical navigation toolbars appear and he can accept or reject individually, or even Accept All corrective comments, as shown below in another illustration from the RoboHelp 9 Reviewer's Guide:

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Comment Moderation in Adobe AIR Help 2.0 for end-user input

Sometimes companies have Help documentation that is evolving, particularly in early product releases in the source languages. RoboHelp can output tot the Adobe AIR Help platform, which provides several useful commenting options:

  • Enable limited commenting by end users for their own use in topic annotation or sharing with co-workers
  • Use commenting between your content-creation team and SMEs to consolidate comments
  • Allow end-users to share comments with other users
  • Share comments amongst users in a shared review

RoboHelp 9 gives you the option to enable Moderation so that comments are first reviewed by a moderator and accepted or rejected before being made visible to the end-user community.

RoboHelp's ability to manage tracked changes amongst multiple content creators

RoboHelp now has a powerful track changes facility, very similar to that introduced in FrameMaker a few releases ago. Using the Review > Track Changes command will highlight additions and deletions. Comments can also be added at this point. RoboHelp also has a feature under Tools > Options that allows the Reviewer or author to identify themselves, so their name will be associated with any insertions or deletions that the specific team member makes.

The image below, drawn from the Reviewer's Guide, shows an example of Tracked Changes as seen in the Design Editor and the Reviewer pane:

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More reasons to use RoboHelp for complex, multilingual Help projects

Our "part 2" blog on this topic will focus on several more compelling RoboHelp features, including improved ways to work with shared and reusable content. An improved resource manager, cross project "live linking" and highly accessible "version control" are just a few features to be touched on in the next blog in this series.

More resources about RoboHelp

Adobe staff and customers have created a large amount of highly useful reviews, blogs and feature overviews on the latest version of RoboHelp. The following list of links will take you to some of the better blogs or video demos on this dynamic product:

GPI's Multilingual Desktop Publishing Services

Globalization Partners International provides many services with document translation and website translation that involve multilingual desktop publishing services. This list below highlights some of the more common products used in such projects:

You may also find some of our previous blogs on desktop publishing useful:

Please contact GPI at info@globalizationpartners.com or at 866-272-5874 with your specific questions about Microsoft Word and your project goals. A complimentary Translation Quote for your project is also available upon request.

Category:
Document Translation
Tags:
Adobe RoboHelp, Translating Help, Tracked Changes, Adobe Acrobat, PDF, Linguistic Review

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Comments

  • LarzOn Nov 07, Larz said:
    In your testing of RH9 language support, have you been able to determine if the search feature in a webhelp project picks up simplified chinese characters? previous versions have not.

    Thank you.
  • Maxwell HoffmannOn Nov 08, Maxwell Hoffmann said:
    Larz, although I have not personally tested the feature you ask about for Chinese, data on www.Adobe.com does indicate that this feature is now supported. Here is some text that I found in search:

    "Yes, RoboHelp 9 supports Unicode, which enables you to author and edit help topics in many different languages. RoboHelp 9 can publish help systems in many languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Canadian French, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss German, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, and Vietnamese. RoboHelp 9 checks spelling, auto-corrects words, and creates a keyword index in any of these languages. The generated help system, including navigation, appears in the selected language. Full text search is also operational in any of the languages."

    Here is the update page for RoboHelp:
    http://www.adobe.com/support/robohelp/downloads.html


  • François MassonOn Feb 09, François Masson said:
    I have always used separate projects to generate multilingual outputs. Either duplicating the content and having it translated from a vendor or translating the content and managing versions with a version control system like Subversion.

    Now my question is: would you recommend mixing two languages into the same project? Now with the ability to set the language at the paragraph level or topic level...

    How would the search engine work? If you are looking for a word that exists in both languages for exemple. We want to implement French and English.

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Ayman is a native Arabic speaker with extensive expertise in Arabic software and website localization. He is a Microsoft Certified professional (MCP) since 2001 and earned several certificates including MCSD, MCAD, MCTS and MCPD. He has over 12 years’ experience in software / websites engineering using Microsoft Programming tools including C#, ASP.NET, SQL Server, Visual Studio and other tools such as HTML, JavaScript, XML, Ajax and others.